Enguru is an Edtech startup aimed at providing affordable employability focused English Language training through innovative technology products and then helping link English levels to appropriate job opportunities. Their flagship product Enguru Spoken English App is a self-learning English Langauge and communication skill app which teaches functional English from regional languages that improve employability. The app is available on Android and the JioPhone and has over 25 million downloads across both platforms.

They also run app based hybrid training programs with a breadth of enterprises using their enguru for Enterprises app. They have completed 150+ such programs split across two main verticals – corporate training including with Trent, Bosch, TCS, Himalaya, Canon, Oberoi, Grasim; CSR/NGO training including with Pratham’s PACE centers, Tata Strive, Dr. Reddy’s Foundation and Voltas & Trent CSR programs with vocational institutes. Mr Arshan Vakil was recognized by Forbes Asia in their annual 30 under 30 lists in the consumer technology category.

Arshan Vakil, Founder – Kings Learning
Arshan Vakil, Founder – Kings Learning

About the founders
Arshan Vakil (Age 28) graduated with a dual degree from the Wharton School & Penn Engineering in 2012. Prior to founding enguru he was working as a product manager and founding member (1st employee) at Hopscotch, an ecommerce company in Mumbai. At this time he also founded a mentorship initiative called Project Vahana, which helped underserved young adults get career ready. The inspiration to start Kings Learning came about around this time – he noticed the grave need for access to affordable high quality English Language Training in India. Having worked as Product Manager and having a degree in System Engineering Arshan focuses a lot of his time on product management. In addition to product management he also leads digital marketing, analytics and finance.

Arshan started enguru with Tahem Verma, his roommate from Penn who has since moved to America to pursue his MBA. Tahem was already working in education and had witnessed the large need for English language training.

Udit Hinduja joint enguru as the COO in June 2017 and oversees the entire enterprise vertical. Udit and Arshan attended school together in Mumbai and have known each other since then.

We are publishing an interview of Mr. Arshan Vakil, Founder – Kings Learning.

Q.: What is the problem you are trying to solve? Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
I noticed how poor English training hampers career growth while working as a Product Manager at an ecommerce startup and running a mentorship initiative for underserved youth. English was an impediment across the board- from the kids we mentored in the program who were looking for basic entry level positions in retail, hotels etc to engineering graduates with whom I worked who struggled with internal communication. My co-founder was already working in education and recognised how much students struggled with English due to the lack of focus on English training.

Enguru App
Enguru – Spoken Englishs App

English is the language of business in India yet the lack of access to good quality training is astounding. We recognised there was a big opportunity here and very high latent demand for affordable English training. With this problem in mind, we founded enguru.

Q.: Please tell us about the investors (if any)
We raised $2.5 million led by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Village Capital and Mr Weihua Yan in September 2017.

Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution.
Our solution is enguru: Spoken English App which is a self learning English Langauge and communication skill application. It teachers learners English from 28 languages, right from the basics up to more complex conversations.

Users go through a placement test when they first use the app which identifies their starting point. This test includes a combination of English proficiency and general preference questions including reasons for learning English and career aspirations etc. The app is split into short 10 minute modules consisting of two activities each – a lesson and a conversation or comprehension. Lessons comprise of a variety of questions including image, text, audio and speech questions coupled with an adaptive algorithm which ensures questions are based on a user’s past performance and career preferences. Conversations are industry specific ‘stories’ which users play through and learn functional vocabulary related to their career interests. Apart from the primary course the app offers a personalised dictionary going over the words already learnt and the ones coming up in the course and a practice section which includes video lessons, news based lessons and bite sized games. Finally the app also allows user to enroll in on demand live classes.

Enguru Screenshot

Each paid course includes a final assessment and certificate. The assessment is invigilated through video and is manually checked by our teachers, thus ensuring it is a very thorough and legitimate English certification. This certification can then be used to apply for different jobs based on its recognition within each industry.

The focus is on providing users access to specific functional English relating to their career interests and then linking them to the appropriate employers. enguru is employability tool just as much as an English tool, we do not just teach the users general English but teach them what is required in their careers. This focus is unique and tailored specifically for the Indian need for English Language.

Q.: What is your USP?
There are numerous app based language learning platforms but none focus on the unique need for English in India- employability. The focus on employability, within the product and business model sets enguru apart. The product provides industry specific certificate courses – English for Retail, Hotels etc and includes adaptive conversations to help users learn functional vocabulary related to their career interest. The hybrid enterprise programs follow the same theme thus helping us be differentiated from our competitors.

The product provides industry specific certificate courses – English for Retail, Hotels etc

Our partnership with the JioPhone allows us to reach out to massive under served audience, most of whom aspire to speak English more fluently. The 23.5 million users in one year on the JioPhone is testament to this.

Q.: How are you pricing the Product? What is the logic behind it? What is the model you are following – Free / Freemium / Premium etc. ? Explain your thought process.
The business model is in line with the premise that enguru is an employability focused company. There are two primary revenue streams which can be split into B2B – English and Communication Skills Training Programs for Enterprises and B2C – Premium Courses & Live Classes.

English and Communication Skills Training Programs

Currently our B2B programs account for majority of our revenue. These programs are run with a range of clients from NGOs and Foundations to large corporates like the Tata Group. All these programs are built around our second app – enguru for Enterprises and have a varying degree of teacher contact as well.

Our B2C revenue model is still in a very nascent stage. Paid features are focused around employability including industry specific certificate courses, mock interviews, resume edits and live classes with Cambridge qualified teachers.

Q.: How did you get your first customer?
Enguru was very positively received when it first launched – shooting right up to #3 top free education app in three days. We saw large organic growth from the very first day and also continue to run ads on fb and google to drive more installs to our app.

Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product leading to something bigger? If so, how?
As a social impact focus start up we are constantly studying learning outcomes from using our app and in turn how these improvements in English fluency help our users in their lives. Currently we are working on multiple pilots to try and help our engaged users find appropriate employment opportunities based on their English speaking levels. Our work with various organizations and skilling institutes also helps us understand the role English plays in helping our users get better employment.

Q.: What is the insight that you have about this market, which no one else has? Uniqueness about your Startup.
This ties back into the unique need for English in India – employability. While everyone knows employability is a big issue in India and English is one piece of that there seems to be a big disconnect on how we are solving for it. Our approach on focusing on learning outcomes and how they subsequently impact tour users is unique and sets us apart.

need for English in India

Q.: List all the names of the core Team Members, along with their Designated Roles.
Our COO, Udit Hinduja(Age 28) graduated with a BA in Economics from NYU in 2012. Prior to joining enguru he worked at KPMG and Micro Housing Finance Corporation. Udit leads operations, enterprise sales and HR. Our academic and content team is led by Mr. Laurie May, who has vast experience in ELT and corporate training. He was previously at British Study Center in London, Kaplan and Accenture’s Corporate Training team in Bangalore. Having a strong background in teaching English to adults in England with a CELTA and DELTA (Certificates in Teaching English) along with some Indian corporate training experience Laurie is the perfect combination for enguru.

How this Bengaluru-based Startup is Cashing in on India's Massive Demand for Spoken English

Tahem, our co-founder completed his BA from Penn in PPE and is currently pursuing his MBA at Cornell Tech. Prior to founding enguru he worked at Intelligent Partners, a UAE based education consultancy.

Q.: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
Our primary competitor is Jaipur Based Hello English App. Globally Duo Lingo is the pioneer in the language learning apps space and currently offers a Hind to English course. There are numerous app based language learning platforms but none focus on the unique need for English in India- employability. The focus on employability, within the product and business model sets enguru apart. The product provides industry specific certificate courses – English for Retail, Hotels etc and includes adaptive conversations to help users learn functional vocabulary related to their career interest. The hybrid enterprise programs follow the same theme thus helping us be differentiated from our competitors.

Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
Over the last 12 months we have been scaling up our enterprise programs heavily. Apart from generating revenue this serves as a brand building exercise for our certificate courses. Our programs with employers helps build credibility and recognition of our certificates and our programs with institutes helps build brand recall with job seekers.

In parallel we are constantly trying to improve the engagement on our consumer app. We frequently meet our users across India to understand more about them and ensure we are constantly innovating our app for our users.

The goal is to ensure our user’s improve their English which requires them to use the app often – we’re confident that if we can manage that at scale there are a number of ways we can innovate to build a strong business around it.
Thanks Arshan. Best wishes.